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Burpham Forum Takes Next Steps Towards a Neighbourhood Plan

Published on: 10 Mar, 2013
Updated on: 12 Mar, 2013
Around 50 Burpham residents gathered to hear of the next required steps by the Burpham Neighbourhood Forum

Around 50 Burpham residents gathered to hear of the next required steps by the Burpham Neighbourhood Forum

The Burpham Neighbourhood Forum took another step yesterday (Saturday, March 9) towards its goal of producing a neighbourhood plan, potentially pioneering the way for other Guildford communities.

Once accepted, a neighbourhood plan would be used as a statutory reference document against which any planning applications would be assessed.

In a meeting attended by around 50 Burpham residents, initiative co-ordinator, Jim Allen outlined the process steps:

First, a survey of all Burpham residents must be conducted, identifying future requirements for the area. It is hoped that this will be done by the end of March and that between 50% and 80% of survey forms are completed and returned.

Second, based on survey results and other planning considerations, a plan will be drawn up and submitted to an examiner who will check that it complies with all necessary rules and regulations.

Third, if the passed by the examiner, a local referendum on the plan will be held. A simple majority of those who vote will be required for approval. There is no guidance on any need for a required turnout percentage. The forum’s target is to hold the vote by June 2014.

Volunteers are being sought to distribute the survey to all homes and businesses in Burpham. The survey will be asking for views on the following topics:
a. local environment – need for sustainability;
b. jobs, business and the local economy;
c. future improvements;
d. traffic and transport;
e. providing new home;
f. housing and education;
g. demographic information.

Mr Allen gave a few examples of what might be covered under some of the headings.

Jim Allen points to a map of Burpham to illustrate a point during the meeting

Jim Allen points to a map of Burpham to illustrate a point during the meeting

He said that simply saying no development should be permitted anywhere in their area would not be permissible; ‘future improvements’ might include a proposal for a new railway station by George Abbot School to ease road congestion; and ‘demographic information’ should include a break down of the population by age to help, for instance, determining future demand for school places and information about residents’ places of work to assess their travel requirements and impact on local infrastructure.

The meeting culminated with an election of forum officers. Those elected were:

Chairman Trevor Wickes, vice-chairman Andy White, secretaries Darren Morgan and Katherine Hughes, treasurer Scarlett Hawkins, technical  co-ordinator Jim Allen, survey supervisor Derek Oliver.

To emphasise the importance of the initiative, in his view,  Jim Allen told the meeting that in a recent case a judge had allowed development on green belt land because no local or neighbourhood plan existed.

Clear concern was expressed during the meeting regarding development on green belt land or the clearance of what, it was claimed, could be ancient woodland which has existed on maps since at least 1630 (officially “ancient woodland” is designated if proved to exist pre 1600).

Present at the meeting was Guildford Borough councillor for Burpham Cllr Christian Holliday (Con). He said: “I was pleased to see so many local residents at the meeting, many of which subsequently joined the forum. This is a tribute to the work of the committee to date and of peoples interest in the future of Burpham.

“It is unfortunate that the forum encountered early delays in registration, but matters are now moving forward with work beginning on the evidence base required to support the drafting of a neighbourhood plan by way of a residents survey. Other evidence will also need to be taken into account, such as any housing or land availability studies published by Guildford Borough Council and national guidance.”

Co-ordinator Jim Allen, who has completed much of the work required to get to this point, said: “It is important that the process of the neighbourhood plan is completed quickly to prevent the community from being exposed naked to the NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework), as happened in Gloucestershire recently.

“It will be several months of very intense work for the community to ensure that the next 20 years are protected to allow Burpham to mature and settle down into a home for its community rather than the place where people simply lay their heads between shifts at the steering wheel trying to get to work.

“The more people who complete the survey, the more work for the forum but better the accuracy of the neighbourhood plan.”

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Responses to Burpham Forum Takes Next Steps Towards a Neighbourhood Plan

  1. Bernard Parke Reply

    March 10, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    This task would be much easier if Guildford had a Town Council as have Godalming, Farnham and Haslemere.

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